2015 MIAC Volleyball Camp Tour- Hamline

By Kelsey Whaley

I didn’t have to move very far for stop number 10 on the MIAC Volleyball Camp Tour. After watching Carleton on court one, I took a quick lunch break and then moved to court two to watch Hamline take on St. Thomas.

Hamline, like Carleton, finished tied for fifth in MIAC standings last season. Also like Carleton, they missed the playoffs because of their head-to-head records against other teams in the conference. The Pipers want to improve and exceed expectations in the 2015 season, something which I believe they can accomplish. Based on their team intangibles and skill set, the Pipers will not be an easy team to beat in conference play. They will give opponents a run for their money.

Here are my six observations from watching the Hamline University Pipers in Northfield:

  1. Defensively Scrappy- The Pipers are extremely crafty on defense and touch almost every ball that comes their way. Their mentality is that the play isn’t over until the whistle blows. If the volleyball is live and in play, a Hamline defender will get a touch on it. Somehow, some way, the Pipers are able to keep the ball alive, which gives them a chance in every game they play.
    Hamline defenders wait in serve receive position
    during their scrimmage against St. Thomas.
  2. Hit the Floor- This goes hand in hand with being scrappy. Not every ball is hit directly at a defender, no matter how good a team’s defense is. Every now and again, a defender may make a wrong read or the hitter may just see an opening and seize the opportunity. Hamline is not immune to these problems; however, they do have defenders that will stop at nothing to keep the ball off the floor. The Pipers make the maximum effort trying to save the volleyball. They'll hit the floor or run halfway across the gym to keep the ball in play.
  3. Push Others to the Limit- Because they are such a scrappy team defensively, the Pipers will push other teams to their limit. Last year, they took a set in their matches against Augsburg, St. Thomas, and Saint Mary’s, three of the top teams in the MIAC. In 2015, Hamline looks to continue this trend. They want to beat and, more importantly, challenge the teams at the top of the conference. They will not be a team opponents can roll over. In fact, they may take more than just a couple sets from top teams this year.
  4. Exceed Expectations- The Hamline volleyball team wants to exceed not just their own
    Hamline serves during their scrimmage against St. Thomas.
    The Pipers service game could cause problems
    for teams in 2015.
    expectations for the year but the rest of the conference’s as well. The Pipers are projected to finish 9th in the MIAC based on the preseason poll, but they want to finish higher than that. Essentially, if other team’s think they will finish ninth in the conference, Hamline wants to finish eighth or seventh. They want to exceed expectations in the future too, but right now, they are just focusing on being a better team than expected in 2015.
  5. No Height, No Problem- The Hamline Pipers are a bit on the shorter side of the height totem this season. They only have two players that break the 6’ mark while the rest all hover around 5’7. Some are a few inches taller and others an inch shorter. This lack of height doesn’t deter the Pipers. In fact, Hamline head coach Becky Egan uses the height to help her team rather than hinder it. She won’t create a game plan that is designed for an entire team of players over six feet. Instead, she’s built a game plan around the play of her defense and the skills of her hitters. This season, the Pipers will prove that a “short” team can have success in a highly competitive volleyball conference.
  6. Strong Coverage- Defense doesn’t start and stop when the other team is hitting the ball.
    Senior outside hitter Michelle Mattke goes after a ball
    during a preseason scrimmage at St. Olaf College.
    Defense is an ongoing process in volleyball and is just as important when a team is on offense. It’s the defenders job to make sure they are in the right place if the hitter gets blocked. With some big blocks in the MIAC, it’s extremely important for a team to have good coverage. Hamline is a team with good coverage. The Pipers are there, ready and waiting, if one of their hitters gets blocked. Even the setter follows her set and waits just in case. The Hamline players have their hitter's back each and every time they are on offense.

Special thanks to Coach Eagan and the team for talking to me, especially since it was during their lunch break. The Pipers will open play on September 1 at home against UW-River Falls and St. Scholastica. Their conference opener is at home against Saint Mary’s University on September 23.

Where to Next?
Well, it’s all coming to an end. St. Olaf, the host of the preseason tournament, is my last stop of the camp tour. The Oles are in a unique position for the year as their head coach is going on sabbatical. Walt Weaver and Reid Vernon are stepping in to help, and it will be interesting to see that dynamic play out on the court.

Be sure to tune into Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, where I’ll be posting live from their scrimmage! Also, make sure to check out Matt’s Football Camp Tour to read even more about your favorite MIAC programs!

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